Who “started” the culture wars?
Recently some members of the Evangelical left called for a “pause” to the culture wars. Evangelical women want Congress to reject the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination and appoint a more moderate justice. Read about their efforts here.
Meanwhile, Al Mohler, the conservative evangelical president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has told PJ Media that such efforts are “doomed to failure.” Here is a taste of Tyler O’Neil’s piece:
“The ‘Call to Pause’ is just the latest effort by the Evangelical left to blame the culture war on conservatives,” Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), told PJ Media Sunday. He insisted that the “Call to Pause” is doomed to failure, and more likely to damage the reputations of its supporters than to achieve any cultural or political change.
Here is more:
Mohler fought back against the idea that conservative evangelicals are to blame for the culture war. “It was liberals who pushed the new ethic of personal autonomy and sexual liberation, and it was liberals who championed legalized abortion and celebrated the infamous Roe v. Wade decision in 1973,” the SBTS president told PJ Media.
He noted that “you can date organized evangelical involvement in American politics to Roe v. Wade,” noting that the conservative evangelical movement was largely a reaction to the Left’s culture war coups achieved by the Supreme Court. This became even more clear in light of Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which supercharged conservatives’ emphasis on the Supreme Court.
“Now, just after the nomination of a clearly conservative judge, Brett Kavanaugh, as the next justice of the Supreme Court, the evangelical left is predictably opposing the nominee, and calling for a ‘pause’ in the culture war,” Mohler noted. “Amazingly enough, those behind the ‘Call to Pause’ are transparent about their fear that Roe v. Wade might be reversed, or even that abortion rights might be curtailed.”
A few thoughts:
- Mohler is often at his dogmatic worst whenever commenting on sexual politics. I do not expect Mohler to agree with the evangelical women who oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination, but why does he have to come across as such an authoritarian ecclesiastical strongman whenever the issue he is addressing involves evangelical women? One thinks he might have learned something about the voices of women in his denomination.
- Mohler pins the entire culture war on Roe v. Wade. While this Supreme Court case played an important role in mobilizing the Christian Right, it is much more complicated than this. But nuance, of course, will not help Mohler and his friends win the culture wars.
- Mohler continues to operate on the old Christian Right playbook for winning the culture wars. If we nominate the right Supreme Court justice, the playbook teaches, the problem of abortion will go away. For some context on this playbook see Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.